Press Release

Minister Hanafin announces the Appointment of Information and Advice Officers for Child Protection and Welfare

“The identification, reporting, assessment, treatment and management of child abuse is being constantly improved by the implementation of Children First – the National Guidelines for the protection and welfare of children” said Minister Hanafin today (Wednesday 6 June). The Minister was speaking at the presentation of certificates to participants of the Keeping Safe Child Protection Training Programme in the Marino Institute of Education.

Substantial progress has been made in implementing the Guidelines since they were introduced in 1999 aided by theĀ£6.35 million allocated to the health boards, as well as support from the Department of Education and Science, Department of Justice Equality and Law Reform and the Department of Tourism, Sport and Recreation.

The Guidelines identify a number of key points and emphasise that:

  • everyone should be alert to the possibility that children with whom they are in contact may be being abused
  • the safety and well-being of the child or young person must take priority
  • any reasonable suspicion of abuse must elicit a response -ignoring the signals or failing to respond may result in ongoing or further harm to the child or young person

Speaking to four of the main Youth Organisations the Minister said it is important that every group and organisation apply the Guidelines to their own structures.

  • The Department of Education and Science has revised their child protection policies for national schools in light of the publication of Children First.
  • The Irish Sports Council recently published their Code of Ethics and Good Practice for Children’s Sport also includes advice for the protection and welfare of children involved in sport.
  • The Probation service is participating in seminars on the Children First Guidelines.
  • All health boards have appointed an Implementation Officer to support implementation at local level and a Training Officer to provide basic level and advanced level training on child protection to health board staff.
  • Local and regional Child Protection Committees are also being introduced across all health boards to develop close working relationships between all professionals.
  • A joint training programme has been developed to support the introduction of a revised Garda/Health Board Protocol.
  • To support agencies and staff working with children a booklet to be used in conjunction with Children First is being developed by the health boards and is due shortly. This booklet promotes good practice and procedures for organisations dealing with children and includes fact-sheets covering areas such as safe recruitment practice, developing safe management practices and policies and raising awareness of child abuse among volunteers and staff.

“In order to help support staff and volunteers working with children I am pleased to announce the appointment of Information and Advice Officers by the health boards to promote good practice and procedures for organisations dealing with children ” the Minister said.

The Youth Sector Guidelines and the Post Primary Schools Guidelines are currently being finalised.

“There are many organisations providing services to children. Some are statutory, some are voluntary. Whatever the motivation or service provided there is a moral obligation on any organisation involved with children to provide them with the highest possible standard of care in order to promote their well-being and safeguard them from harm” the Minister said.